Strange insurance policies for celebrities and other rich folk
Specialty lines of personal insurance can skirt some very interesting territory. Here are some of the more bizarre insurance policies taken out, from celebrities and grooms to those with a nose for wine. Companies like Lloyd’s of London will insure them all, for the right price.
The celebrity body part parade
Smiles, hair and legs are all fair game for celebrities when it comes to strange insurance policies. “Ugly Betty” star America Ferrera’s smile was insured for $10 million by the toothpaste brand Aquafresh. Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu’s flowing locks were insured for $1 million by Head & Shoulders shampoo. Supermodel Heidi Klum’s legs are worth $2.2 million, according to an insurance policy purchased by the shaver maker Braun.
This kind of “big insurance” is worth its weight in PR gold, notes Ted Tafaro, CEO of Exceptional Risk Advisors, a Lloyd’s underwriter in Mahwah, N.J.
“Lotion companies were famous for insuring their leg models’ legs for a million dollars,” Tafaro told Bankrate. “We would write a policy for them, charge them $1,000, and if her legs got disfigured in an accident in Central Park on a Thursday, we would pay.”
Space tourism and bad weather – in space
SpaceShipOne, the first non-government-backed space plane, carried a $100 million Lloyd’s of London liability policy. Experts speculate that Sir Richard Branson will take out an even larger policy once Virgin Galactic is ready to travel to the stars.
But what about after the space flight? Space debris and “space weather” are also concerns, as space junk and magnetic storms straight from the sun can ruin anyone’s day. Lloyd’s does not yet issue policies for such occurrences, but a company insider speculated that it may happen soon.
Frozen blood head sculpture
London gallery owner Charles Saatchi bought a frozen sculpture in 1991 that was made entirely out of nine frozen pints of an artist’s blood for for £13,000 ($21,155) and insured the piece, which did end up paying off. Saatchi and TV chef girlfriend Nigella Lawson reportedly kept the head in a freezer for nine years, until the day builders unknowingly unplugged the freezer. It was a bloody mess.
Since the average cost of a U.S. wedding is currently $29,000, some people see it as a good investment to buy insurance to protect against that runaway bride or groom. The company Fireman’s Fund issues such insurance, notes Bankrate.
“It protects the nonrefundable expenses, including cancellation due to serious illness, injury, extreme weather, a missing caterer or officiate — even a bankrupt event facility,” said Fireman’s media relations manager, Janet Ruiz.
In recent years, such policies have even been amended to include riders to cover counseling in the event of a broken heart.
Insurance for the near-impossible scenario
One Michigan couple reportedly took out a policy with Lloyd’s that paid out when the couple experienced the mathematical improbability of having a second set of twin children. The Cutty Sark whiskey company took out a $1.63 million policy as security in case someone actually did capture the Loch Ness monster alive. For British employers, Lloyd’s will even sell insurance policies that protect the company if two or more employees win Britain’s national lottery and decide not to return to work.
A nose for weird insurance
Insurance on a sense organ is not unheard of. In 2008, Dutch winemaker Ilja Gort insured his nose for $8 million through Lloyd’s of London. Gort claims he can distinguish millions of different scents, which helps his wine selection a great deal. Unfortunately, the Lloyd’s policy forbids Gort to participate in winter sports, boxing and fire breathing.
Topping that, the following year, Costa Coffee chief taster Gennaro Pelliccia insured his tongue for $14 million. As the average tongue has 10,000 taste buds, Bankrate points out that that equates to about $1,400 for each taste bud.